Opel's new Insignia Grand Sport tested on Irish roads
Pros: Rear seat room, great diesel engines, refined drive
Cons: Very subtle design changes, reduced boot space
The Insignia is one of Opel’s best-selling models of the last decade and it has become a common sight on Irish roads ever since. Opel has released a revised version of the car for 2017 named the Insignia Grand Sport, which thanks to a new platform brings more interior space and improved driving dynamics. And while the Insignia has traditionally competed with established sellers like the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat, Opel reckons the Grand Sport also has the necessary qualities to compete with premium models such as the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series. We recently spent a week lwith the Insignia Grand Sport on Irish roads to see what it’s like.
What is it like?
The Insignia Grand Sport has more road presence than before thanks to larger new underpinnings. Key styling changes include sculpted lines along the doors, a low and large front grille with chrome detailing, a longer bonnet and distinctive LED brake lights at the rear. We parked our test car alongside a previous generation Insignia at Carzone HQ, and while styling hasn’t changed significantly, the Insignia Grand Sport looks more grown up. This is a high specification SRI model which means it has an upgraded styling kit and large five spoke alloy wheels, lending a sportier look, but the step up to SRI specification commands a considerably higher asking price.
The Insignia Grand Sport has a similar interior layout to the latest generation Opel Astra, which is a good thing. Stepping inside, you are greeted by a nicely-designed dashboard with neatly-integrated displays and sturdy materials. There is ample room in the front seats, and thanks to the new larger platform, leg room in the rear has improved significantly too. Opel’s Intellink system and touch screen display is standard across the range and it works very well with seamless smartphone pairing.
Leg room in the rear is excellent and on par with the best in class including the Skoda Superb, thanks to a completely flat floor, though the sloping roof design restricts head room in the rear seats for taller passengers. Space in the boot is generous at 490 litres and on par with most mid-sized SUVs, but it is smaller than before and quite can’t match the latest Ford Mondeo (550 litres plus).
The Insignia Grand Sport is available with a range of different petrol and diesel engines, but we suspect the 1.6 CDTi diesel engine in our test car will be the best seller here in Ireland. It’s an excellent unit and very well matched to the Insignia Grand Sport’s bulk. The 1.6 CDTI has 136 horsepower with enough low down grunt to cover 0-100km/h in 10.5 seconds and cruise comfortably at motorway speeds. We were impressed with the fuel economy from this engine during our test, with 5.5 litres per 100 kilometres of driving (51mpg) achieved easily. The six-speed manual gearbox in our test car is a little notchy and the gear lever itself is quite large to hold, but there is also an automatic gearbox option too.
Out on the road, comfort and driving dynamics in the Insignia Grand Sport have been noticeably improved. At high speeds it is quiet and refined, with engine noise barely noticeable. As the Insignia Grand Sport is significantly lighter than its predecessor, it’s also more fun to drive and tackles corners with confidence. While it isn’t as agile as the BMW 3 Series, it feels more nimble than its large looks would suggest.
Prices for the new Insignia Grand Sport start from €27,350 for the base specification SC 1.5 petrol model, which is considerably lower than the comparable entry level Ford Mondeo. As standard it has Opel’s OnStar system with personal assistant and on-board Wi-Fi, Bluetooth streaming and Opel’s excellent Intellilink touch screen audio system which seamlessly connects to your smartphone. You’ll have to stretch to the higher specification SE, SRi or Elite Nav models to get alloy wheels however. Our SRi specification test car has a host of desirable extras including satellite navigation, sport seats and sporty styling details, but prices start from €29,350 in petrol guise.
Carzone verdict: 4/5
Opel has succeeded in making a more comfortable, engaging and desirable large hatchback with the new Insignia Grand Sport. While the Grand Sport looks quite similar to the previous generation model, thanks to an all-new platform and underpinnings, it has taken a step forward in quality and it feels more grown up than its predecessor. The Insignia Grand Sport challenges its main rivals, the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat, in just about every way, but it doesn’t have enough quality to square up to the Audi A4 or BMW 3 Series. With strong specification and good value for money, we can see the Insignia Grand Sport being a top choice with company drivers and family buyers for years to come.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Opel Insignia Grand Sport
Prices from: €27,350
Price as tested: €32,350 (excluding options)
Annual Road Tax: €200
Engine: 1598cc four-cylinder turbocharged diesel
Power/Torque: 136bhp / 320Nm
Top Speed: 211km/h
0-100km/h: 10.5 seconds
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Body style: Hatchback
Boot Space: 490 litres